Safe work in confined spaces Confined Spaces Regulations 1997

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1 Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 Approved Code of Practice and guidance This Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance is for those who work or control work in confined spaces. It explains the definition of a confined space in the Regulations and gives examples. It will help you assess the risk of working within a particular confined space and put precautions in place for work to be carried out safely. This edition brings the ACOP up to date with regulatory and other changes. The guidance has been simplified to make the understanding and use of the document easier, particularly with clarifying the definition of a confined space. L101 (Third edition, published 2014) Other changes include a flowchart to help in the decision-making process, additional examples including new workplace risks (such as specifically created hypoxic environments, fire suppression systems etc), and amendments relating to the need to check, examine and test equipment. HSE Books

2 Crown copyright 2014 First published 1997 Second edition 2009 Third edition 2014 ISBN You may reuse this information (excluding logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. To view the licence visit write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or Some images and illustrations may not be owned by the Crown so cannot be reproduced without permission of the copyright owner. Enquiries should be sent to Approved Code of Practice This Code has been approved by the Health and Safety, with the consent of the Secretary of State. It gives practical advice on how to comply with the law. If you follow the advice you will be doing enough to comply with the law in respect of those specific matters on which the Code gives advice. You may use alternative methods to those set out in the Code in order to comply with the law. However, the Code has a special legal status. If you are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the Code, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a court will find you at fault. Guidance This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety. Following the guidance is not compulsory unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance. Page 2 of 61

3 Contents Introduction 5 Meaning of confined space 7 Regulation 1 Citation, commencement and interpretation 7 The hazards 10 Application of the Regulations 14 Regulation 2 Disapplication of Regulations 14 Regulation 8 Extension outside Great Britain 14 Duties under the Regulations 16 Regulation 3 Risk assessment 17 Factors to be assessed 18 Persons upon whom duties are imposed by these Regulations 16 Preventing the need for entry 21 Regulation 4 Work in confined spaces 21 Duties with regard to the design and construction of confined spaces 22 Safe working in confined spaces 24 Regulation 4 Work in confined spaces 24 Emergency procedures 34 Regulation 5 Emergency arrangements 34 Plant and equipment 38 Training 43 Regulation 6 Exemption certificates 44 Regulation 7 Defence in proceedings 44 Regulation 9 Repeal and revocations 45 Schedule Revocations 46 Appendix 1 Notice of Approval 47 Appendix 2 Relevant general health and safety law 48 Appendix 3 Further reading 58 Further information 61 Standards relevant to manholes and other access to confined spaces 57 Page 3 of 61

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5 Introduction About this book 1 This Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and associated guidance provide practical advice on how you can comply with the requirements of the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 (SI 1997/1713). 2 This book is for employers and self-employed people, referred to in this document as dutyholders, as well as anyone who has responsibility for controlling work which may need to be carried out in a confined space, such as managers and supervisors. Throughout this book we have referred to those who have duties as you. Where the guidance is addressed to someone other than the dutyholder, for example a competent person, the text is clear about who it is intended for. 3 Changes in this edition include: (d) (e) expansion of the guidance on the definition of a confined space ; inclusion of a flowchart to help in the decision-making process; additional examples of confined spaces to clarify new workplace risks, eg specifically created hypoxic environments, fire suppression systems etc; those required to accommodate legislative or guidance changes, eg the smoking ban, changes to the testing procedures for lifting equipment and breathing apparatus; amendments to the provisions relating to the need to check, examine and test equipment (monitors, personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory protective equipment (RPE)) to clarify the requirements of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). Involving workers 4 Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. Collaboration with your employees helps you to manage health and safety in a practical way by: helping you spot workplace risks; making sure health and safety controls are practical; increasing the level of commitment to working in a safe and healthy way. 5 Employers must consult employees in good time on health and safety matters. In workplaces where a trade union is recognised, this will be through union health and safety representatives. In non-unionised workplaces, consult either directly or through other elected representatives. 6 Consultation involves employers both giving information to employees and listening to them, taking account of what they say before making health and safety Page 5 of 61

6 decisions. See the HSE leaflet Consulting employees on health and safety: A brief guide to the law INDG232 (see Further reading) and our website (www.hse.gov.uk/ involvement) for more information. Issues you should consult employees on include: risks arising from their work; proposals to manage and/or control these risks; the best ways of providing information and training. About ACOPs 7 ACOPs are approved by the HSE Board with the consent of the Secretary of State (see Appendix 1 Notice of Approval for details). 8 The ACOP describes preferred or recommended methods that can be used (or standards to be met) to comply with the Regulations and the duties imposed by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (the HSW Act). The accompanying guidance also provides advice on achieving compliance, or it may give information of a general nature, including explanation of the requirements of the law, more specific technical information or references to further sources of information. 9 The legal status of ACOP and guidance text is given on the copyright page (page 2). Presentation 10 The ACOP text is set out in bold and the accompanying guidance in normal type, the text of the Regulations is in italics. Coloured borders also indicate each section clearly. 11 Some of the regulations are preceded by a short summary of the main duties imposed by that regulation to help the reader navigate the document. This is for information only. Page 6 of 61

7 Meaning of confined space CONFINED SPACES REGULATIONS 1997 Regulation 1 Citation, commencement and interpretation Regulation 1 (1) These Regulations may be cited as the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 and shall come into force on 28th January (2) In these Regulations, unless the context otherwise requires confined space means any place, including any chamber, tank, vat, silo, pit, trench, pipe, sewer, flue, well or other similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk; diving project has the meaning assigned thereto by regulation 2(1) of the Diving at Work Regulations 1997; free flowing solid means any substance consisting of solid particles and which is of, or is capable of being in, a flowing or running consistency, and includes flour, grain, sugar, sand or other similar material; mine has the meaning assigned thereto by section 180 of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954; specified risk means a risk of serious injury to any person at work arising from a fire or explosion; without prejudice to paragraph (i) the loss of consciousness of any person at work arising from an increase in body temperature; (ii) the loss of consciousness or asphyxiation of any person at work arising from gas, fume, vapour or the lack of oxygen; the drowning of any person at work arising from an increase in the level of liquid; or (d) the asphyxiation of any person at work arising from a free flowing solid or the inability to reach a respirable environment due to entrapment by a free flowing solid; system of work includes the provision of suitable equipment which is in good working order. Page 7 of 61

8 Guidance 1 Definition of confined space 12 Under these Regulations a confined space must have both of the following defining features: it must be a space which is substantially (though not always entirely) enclosed; and one or more of the specified risks must be present or reasonably foreseeable. 13 Some confined spaces are fairly easy to identify, for example sewers and closed tanks used to store chemicals. However, identification may not always be so easy, as a confined space is not necessarily: (d) enclosed on all sides some, such as vats, silos and ships holds, may have open tops or sides; small and/or difficult to work in some, like grain silos and ships holds, can be very large; difficult to get in or out of some have several entrances/exits, others have quite large openings or are apparently easy to escape from; or a place where people do not regularly work some confined spaces (such as those used for spray painting in car repair centres) are used regularly by people in the course of their work. 14 A place not usually considered to be a confined space may become one if there is a change in the conditions inside or a change in the degree of enclosure or confinement, which may occur intermittently. For example, an enclosed space may be free of contaminants and have a safe level of oxygen but the work to be carried out in it may change this, such as: welding that would consume some of the oxygen; a spray booth during paint spraying; or using chemicals for cleaning purposes which can add contaminants. 15 In such cases the space may be defined as a confined space while that work is ongoing and until the level of oxygen recovers or the contaminants have dispersed by ventilating the area. 16 Some confined spaces may be created deliberately, for example reduced oxygen (hypoxic) environments, where the oxygen level is depleted either by reducing the oxygen concentration or increasing the concentration of another gas such as nitrogen. Situations where hypoxic environments are used include to prevent ignition of fires in archives or to delay oxidation in fresh food preservation for fruit and vegetables. 17 Some spaces may meet the criteria to be a confined space when they are used to store certain specific items. Examples include: a store of gas cylinders (carbon dioxide, argon etc) held in an enclosed space (which if discharged would affect the atmosphere sufficiently to represent a specified risk); a store of material used as part of a fire suppression system (which would represent a specified risk if discharged); or a storage facility for wooden pellets used as fuel in heating systems. 18 When a space is identified as a confined space these Regulations will apply in full, even where the specified risk is controlled. The status of a space can change depending on circumstances as can the risks, for example heavy rain may present Page 8 of 61

9 Guidance 1 a foreseeable risk of drowning in a space not usually considered confined. The space may be defined as a confined space because of the work being carried out in it, and may cease to be a confined space when the specified risk is removed and the atmosphere tested as safe, eg if the specified risk is due to fumes when cleaning with chemicals, the space may cease to be confined when the fumes have been removed by ventilation. Actions taken to mitigate a risk should be monitored to ensure they are working effectively and continue to do so throughout the task. 19 Figure 1 can help you with the decision-making process. It describes the specified risks there must be at least one of these present or reasonably foreseeable to make any enclosed space a confined space within these Regulations. Figure 1 Is the area a confined space? Is the space substantially or totally enclosed? Yes No This space is not a confined space under these Regulations Is there a risk of one or more of the following? Serious injury due to fire or explosion Loss of consciousness arising from increased body temperature Loss of consciousness or asphyxiation arising from gas, fume, vapour, or lack of oxygen Drowning from an increase in the level of a liquid Asphyxiation arising from a free-flowing solid or being unable to reach a respirable environment due to being trapped by such a free-flowing solid Yes This space is a confined space and subject to the Regulations No Will the work to be done in the space introduce one or more of those risks? No Yes This space is a confined space and subject to these Regulations as long as this work is being carried out and any residual risk remains, eg until produced fumes have been fully vented This space is not a confined space under these Regulations Page 9 of 61

10 Guidance 1 Examples of a confined space 20 In addition to the places referred to in regulation 1(2), the expression confined space may also refer to the following locations and other similar places, but only where there is also the presence of or a reasonably foreseeable risk of one of the specified risks to the health and safety of those working in the space: (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) ducts, culverts, tunnels, boreholes, bored piles, manholes, shafts, excavations and trenches, sumps, inspection and under-machine pits, cofferdams; freight containers, ballast tanks, ships engine rooms and cargo holds; buildings, building voids; some enclosed rooms (particularly plant rooms) and compartments within them; enclosures for the purpose of asbestos removal; areas used for storage of materials that are likely to oxidise (such as store rooms for steel chains or wood pellet hopper tanks); unventilated or inadequately ventilated rooms and silos; structures that become confined spaces during fabrication or manufacture; and interiors of machines, plant or vehicles. 21 This is not an exhaustive list and there may be other types of confined space. 22 Not all enclosed workplaces are subject to the Regulations; an enclosed workplace without a specified risk is not a confined space that is subject to the Regulations even where there are other risks due to the size or difficulty of working in it. In ceiling voids, lofts and some cellars, if the space is cramped you may need to consider other risks, such as musculoskeletal disorders, or how people would be evacuated if they had a fall or injury. However, these areas would not be confined spaces under the Regulations unless they met the requirements on being enclosed and having one or more of the specified risks. They would require a risk assessment and consideration of the relevant regulations, eg the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 or the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations The hazards 23 The hazards that the Confined Spaces Regulations address arise through the combination of the confined nature of the place of work and the possible presence of substances or conditions which, taken together, can increase the risk to safety or health. Hazards can exist in the space (eg fumes or a flammable atmosphere) or they can be introduced to a substantially enclosed space that otherwise would be safe (eg fumes released when using chemical cleaners). The most likely hazards are as follows. Flammable substances and oxygen enrichment 24 A risk of fire or explosion can arise: (d) (e) from the presence of flammable substances, for example from fumes left in a tanker previously used for transporting petrol; from an excess of oxygen in the atmosphere, for example caused by a leak from an oxygen cylinder forming part of welding equipment; from the presence of chemicals that can combust or spark in enriched (or in some cases normal) oxygen levels; from the ignition of airborne flammable contaminants such as flour dust; or due to leaks from adjoining plant or processes that have not been effectively isolated. Page 10 of 61

11 Guidance 1 Excessive heat 25 Hot conditions can lead to a dangerous rise in core body temperature and this can be made worse by wearing PPE, highly physical or strenuous work, or working at a high work rate. In extreme cases heat stroke and unconsciousness can result. 26 Excessive heat can occur where: (d) work is being done in hot conditions or where, for example, boilers or furnaces have not been allowed sufficient time to cool before entering to undertake maintenance work; the confined space is exposed to the sun or another heat source; equipment has been steam cleaned to remove hydrocarbons; or hot work is being carried out, eg using welding equipment for repair. 27 A slower heat build-up in the body can also cause heat stress. If action is not taken to cool the body there is a risk of heat stroke and unconsciousness. Toxic gas, fume or vapour 28 The presence of toxic gas, fume or vapour can lead to asphyxia or unconsciousness. 29 These contaminants can occur due to: (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) previous processing or storage in the space, eg fumigation, decaying material; sludge or other deposits, for example when disturbed by cleaning. Hydrocarbon vapour can still be present under scale even after cleaning; them entering the space from adjoining plant that has not been effectively isolated or from exhausts of equipment being used, eg generators for lighting; the work being done, such as: (i) welding, flame cutting; (ii) lead lining; (iii) brush and spray painting, or moulding using glass-reinforced plastics; (iv) use of adhesives or solvents; or (v) from the products of combustion; plant failure, eg build-up of ammonia if refrigeration plant fails or accumulation of carbon dioxide following leaks from compressed gas cylinders; naturally occurring biological processes producing toxic gases in sewers, storage tanks, storm water drains, wells, slurry pits etc or produced as a result of fermentation in sealed silos where crops are stored; build-up in some spaces, such as sewers or manholes, due to contaminated ground or leaks from behind vessel linings, rubber, lead, brick etc; actions outside the space, for example due to hot work (welding on the exterior surfaces) or from equipment outside the space (such as exhaust fume from mobile plant, especially on construction sites, petrol-driven pumps, ventilation equipment or generators being used to provide light within the confined space). Oxygen deficiency 30 A lack of oxygen in the atmosphere may also lead to asphyxia or unconsciousness. Page 11 of 61

12 Guidance 1 31 Oxygen deficiency can result from many processes and the storage of many different products, including: (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) purging the confined space with an inert gas to remove flammable or toxic gas, fume, vapour or aerosols; naturally occurring biological or chemical processes consuming oxygen, for example: (i) in fermentation vessels during brewing; (ii) in cargo holds from the carriage of timber or timber products; (iii) from steel turnings, swarf or scrap metal; (iv) from vegetable products, grain or coal etc; the transport or storage of wood pellets used as biofuel, which under certain circumstances can both consume oxygen and produce carbon monoxide gas; leaving a vessel completely closed or poorly ventilated for some time (particularly one constructed of or containing items made from steel) since the process of rust formation on the inside surface consumes oxygen. Newly fabricated or shot-blasted carbon steel vessels are especially vulnerable to rusting, particularly those with a large surface area such as heat exchangers, separators, filters etc; increased levels of carbon dioxide from limestone chippings associated with drainage operations when they get wet; burning operations and work such as welding and grinding which consume oxygen; displacement of air during pipe freezing, for example with liquid nitrogen; a gradual depletion of oxygen as workers breathe in confined spaces and where provision of replacement air is inadequate, particularly where the work is strenuous or the rate of breathing is increased due to the ambient temperature in the space. Both heat and cold can cause changes in a person s respiration rate; a deliberate reduction in the oxygen level, designed to inhibit fire (eg in archives, libraries and IT server rooms) or to extend the shelf-life of produce, or to reduce the effects of oxidation. The ingress or presence of liquids 32 Liquids can flow into the confined space and lead to drowning, for example the ingress of liquid when working in sewers or from other plant which has not been adequately isolated in an industrial situation. The presence of a liquid can also lead to other serious injury or health effect depending on the nature of the liquid, such as its corrosivity or toxicity. Drowning can occur in even a small depth of liquid. Solid materials which can flow 33 Free-flowing solids can submerge a person, preventing breathing. Materials which create this hazard include grain, sugar, flour, sand, coal dust and other substances in granular or powder form. In a confined space the risk is increased because there is no space for the material to flow away. Other hazards not specific to confined spaces 34 Other hazards (such as electricity, noise, collapse or subsidence of or within the space, loss of structural integrity and those arising from mechanical equipment and working space) can be identified when assessing the risk from the need to Page 12 of 61

13 Guidance 1 enter or work in a confined space. These hazards are not unique to confined spaces working and are not dealt with in the Regulations or this document. Where these hazards are present in a confined space, the precautions will almost always be more extensive because of the enclosed nature of the confined space. 35 Specific regulations and supporting guidance already deal with many of these other hazards, for example: Electricity at Work Regulations 1989; Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998; Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005; (d) Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992; (e) Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002; (f) Control of Asbestos Regulations The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) also apply to all substances hazardous to health (other than lead or asbestos), such as toxic fume and injurious dust. The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 may apply where radon gas can accumulate in confined spaces (eg sewers) and where industrial radiography is used (eg to look at weld integrity in vessels). See Further reading. Page 13 of 61

14 Application of the Regulations CONFINED SPACES REGULATIONS 1997 Regulation 2 Disapplication of Regulations Regulation 2 These Regulations shall not apply to or in relation to the master or crew of a sea-going ship or to the employer of such persons in respect of the normal ship-board activities carried out solely by a ship s crew under the direction of the master; or any place below ground in a mine; or any diving project to and in relation to which the Diving at Work Regulations 1997 apply by virtue of regulation 3 of those Regulations. Regulation 8 Extension outside Great Britain Summary Regulation 8 does not impose any duties, but identifies the geographic limits for where the Regulations apply outside Great Britain. Within Great Britain the Confined Spaces Regulations apply in all premises and work situations subject to the HSW Act except those referred to in regulation 2. Regulation 8 These Regulations shall, subject to regulation 2 above, apply to and in relation to the premises and activities outside Great Britain to which sections 1 to 59 and 80 of the 1974 Act apply by virtue of paragraphs,, (d) and (e) of article 8 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (Application Outside Great Britain) Order 1995* as they apply within Great Britain but they shall not apply in any case where at the relevant time article 4, 5, 6 or 7 of the said Order applies. * See paragraph 41. Guidance 8 37 The Confined Spaces Regulations apply in all premises and work situations subject to the HSW Act, with the exception of diving operations, and below ground in a mine. Specific legislation deals with confined spaces in these cases, and guidance is available (see Further reading). 38 In addition, the Regulations do not apply to the master or crew of a seagoing ship or to the employer of such people in respect of the normal shipboard activities carried out solely by a ship s crew under the direction of the master. There are marine regulations which provide very similar requirements for the master and crew of seagoing ships, covering the same risks, which apply wherever a UK ship is in the world. Page 14 of 61

15 ACOP 8 39 Where an operation involves a ship s crew and shoreside workers working together aboard ship, the provisions will apply, thereby imposing duties on masters, crew and their employers, as well as the shoreside workers involved and their employers. They must cooperate so far as is necessary to ensure that their duties in relation to these matters are discharged, agreeing procedures and establishing who is in overall control as required under regulation 11 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. 40 When entering compression chambers or diving bells provided for the support of diving operations to conduct pre- and post-diving procedures, setting-to work (ie commissioning equipment), or maintenance procedures, the Confined Spaces Regulations will apply because these activities are not defined as diving operations under the Diving at Work Regulations Guidance 8 ACOP 8 41 The Regulations also extend outside Great Britain in a limited number of cases where the HSW Act applies by virtue of paragraphs,, (f), and (g) of article 11 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (Application outside Great Britain) Order 2013 (SI 2013/240), which has replaced the provisions of the 1995 Order. 42 The Confined Spaces Regulations apply to certain activities aboard installations stacked out of use in the territorial sea that are not defined as offshore installations, such as the activities of shore-based workers undertaking repair, maintenance or cleaning. Page 15 of 61

16 Duties under the Regulations CONFINED SPACES REGULATIONS 1997 Regulation 3 Persons upon whom duties are imposed by these Regulations Regulation 3 (1) Every employer shall ensure compliance with the provisions of these Regulations in respect of any work carried out by his employees; and ensure compliance, so far as is reasonably practicable, with the provisions of these Regulations in respect of any work carried out by persons other than his employees insofar as the provisions relate to matters which are within his control. (2) Every self-employed person shall comply with the provisions of these Regulations in respect of his own work; and ensure compliance, so far as is reasonably practicable, with the provisions of these Regulations in respect of any work carried out by other persons insofar as the provisions relate to matters which are within his control. ACOP 3 43 References to dutyholders within this document mean employers or self-employed people with responsibilities under these Regulations. Where dutyholders have duties in relation to people at work who are not their employees the duty is to do what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances. In many cases, they will need to liaise and cooperate with others (eg other employers) to agree the respective responsibilities in terms of the Regulations and duties. 44 You should take all reasonably practicable steps to engage competent contractors and ensure there is a clear understanding of who has responsibility for doing what. In this way, those in control can be clear about what they can reasonably do to ensure that those undertaking the work in the confined space comply with these and other relevant regulations. Page 16 of 61

17 Risk assessment THE MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK REGULATIONS 1999, REGULATION 3 (See Appendix 2) Guidance 3 45 The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) apply across all industries and all work activities. The principal duty, regulation 3, requires a dutyholder to identify the measures they need to take to manage risk by means of a suitable and sufficient assessment of all risks to workers and any others who may be affected by their work activities (insignificant risks can be ignored). Employers with five or more employees are required to record the significant findings of the assessment. 46 This risk assessment should identify whether a space is a confined space under these Regulations. Some spaces will become confined spaces because of the work to be carried out in them or because of changes in their use or changes to the level of enclosure. Management Regulations ACOP 3 47 In accordance with regulation 4(1) of the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997, the priority when carrying out a risk assessment is to identify measures to avoid work in confined spaces. If, in the light of the risks identified, it cannot be considered reasonably practicable to carry out the work without entering the confined space, then you must secure a safe system for working within the confined space in accordance with regulation 4(2). The risk assessment will help identify the necessary precautions to be included in the safe system of work. 48 If it is not reasonably practicable to avoid the need to work in a confined space the dutyholder must assess the risks connected with entering or working in the space. The assessment should identify the risks to those entering or working there, and also any others, for example other workers including contractors and the general public in the vicinity who could be affected by the work to be undertaken. The risk assessment must be carried out by someone competent to do so. 49 A competent person for these purposes will be someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience of, and familiarity with, the relevant processes, plant and equipment so that they understand the risks involved and can devise necessary precautions to meet the requirements of the Confined Spaces Regulations. In complex cases more than one person may be needed to assess the risks relating to specific areas. Management Regulations 50 Where a number of confined spaces (eg sewers or manholes) are broadly the same, in terms of the conditions and the activities being carried out, and if the risks and measures to deal with them are the same, it may be possible to devise a model or generic risk assessment covering them all. Any Page 17 of 61

18 ACOP 3 Management Regulations Guidance 3 differences in particular cases that would alter the conclusions of the model risk assessment must be identified. Failure to include relevant information in the risk assessment could lead to inadequate precautions in the subsequent system of work. 51 When carrying out an assessment, you should make use of all relevant information available about the confined space. For example, there may be information from engineering drawings, working plans or about relevant soil or geological conditions. Assess this information in conjunction with information on any processes that have already taken place or will take place in the course of the work which could affect the condition of the confined space. 52 Employees and their representatives should be consulted when assessing the risks connected with entering or working in a confined space. Management Regulations ACOP 3 53 Give particular attention to situations where the work circumstances are changing (for example at construction sites or steel fabrications) or where there are temporary workers who are likely to have limited knowledge of the conditions and dangers in the confined space. You should use this assessment to help identify the correct individual to carry out the work, eg those with the correct training, physically able to carry out the task etc. Factors to be assessed General condition of the confined space 54 You should assess the general condition of the confined space to identify what might be present or not present, and cause a problem, for example is the concentration of oxygen normal or is there any evidence of damage or corrosion? Any records relating to the confined space should be checked for relevant information. Consideration should be given to: Previous contents 55 Information about any substances previously held, however briefly, in the confined space, will give an indication of what kind of hazard may be expected, for example toxic or flammable gases etc. Fires and explosions have been caused by ignition of substances thought to have been removed some considerable time before, but which were, in fact, still present. Residues 56 Dangers may arise from chemical residues or scale, rust, sludge or other residues in a confined space. For example, dangerous gas, fume or vapour can be released when scale, sludge or animal slurry is disturbed. Where there are residues, safe working procedures should assume that disturbance of the residue etc will release gas, fume or vapour. Management Regulations Contamination 57 Contamination may arise from adjacent plant, processes, gas mains or surrounding land, soil or strata. Gases and liquids may leak, or may have leaked, into the confined space from adjacent plant, installations, processes or landfill sites. This is a particular risk where confined spaces are below ground because they can be contaminated by substances from installations many metres away. Page 18 of 61

19 ACOP 3 58 In certain situations, water in ground strata and/or gases may enter the confined space from the surrounding land, soil or strata. For example, acid groundwater acting on limestone can lead to dangerous accumulations of carbon dioxide. 59 Methane can occur from a number of sources including the decay of organic matter and can be released from groundwater. Methane and other gases can leach into groundwater and be released at distances remote from the source. Sewers can be affected over long distances by water surges, for example following sudden heavy rainfall upstream of where work is being carried out. Oxygen deficiency and oxygen enrichment 60 There are substantial risks if the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere varies significantly from normal (ie 20.9%). For example, oxygen enrichment will increase flammability of clothing and other combustible materials. Conversely, a relatively small reduction in the oxygen percentage can lead to impaired mental ability, and can adversely affect others with preexisting medical conditions such as respiratory infections, asthma etc. The effects are very rapid and generally there will be no warning to alert the senses. This can happen even in circumstances where only a person s head is inside a confined space. Very low oxygen concentrations (ie below 16%) can lead to unconsciousness and death. Any difference in oxygen content from normal should be investigated, the risk assessed, and appropriate measures taken in the light of the risk. 61 Particular care should be taken in environments created with a specifically reduced oxygen concentration in the atmosphere produced by removing oxygen or increasing concentration of another gas, usually nitrogen (a hypoxic environment). This should include restrictions on access and alarm systems to alert workers when oxygen limits drop below a safe limit. Physical dimensions 62 You must consider the possible effects of the dimensions and layout of the confined space. Air quality can differ if the space contains remote or lowlying compartments. You should also take account of isolated pockets or regions within the space when choosing ventilation methods. Hazards arising from the work 63 You should assess hazards that arise directly from the work to be undertaken in the confined space. The work itself may produce the hazard. Alternatively, conditions may become hazardous when work is done in conjunction with residues, contamination etc. Work being done on the exterior of the confined space (eg external welding) could also generate hazardous conditions within. Hazards that can be introduced into a space that may otherwise be safe include: Cleaning chemicals 64 Chemicals used for cleaning could affect the atmosphere directly or interact with residual substances present in the confined space. Management Regulations Sources of ignition 65 Welding could act as a source of ignition for flammable gases, vapours (eg from residues), dusts, plastics and many other materials which may burn leading to a fire or explosion. Welding on the outside of a confined space can Page 19 of 61

20 ACOP 3 easily ignite materials in contact with the metal on the inside. Tools and equipment, including lighting, may need to be inherently safe or specially protected where they are likely to be used in potentially flammable or explosive atmospheres so that they do not present a source of ignition. Increasing temperature 66 Hot work may cause a significant increase in temperature within the confined space. Welding, for example either within the confined space or on the outside, can increase the temperature. Strenuous work activity can also have an effect on thermal comfort of workers, particularly where PPE is worn to protect workers from other risks to safety and health. Hazards from outside the space 67 You should assess the need to isolate the confined space to prevent dangers arising from outside. For example: Ingress of substances 68 There may be a risk of substances (liquids, gases, steam, water, raw materials) from nearby processes and services entering the confined space. This could be caused by the inadvertent operation of machinery. You should normally disconnect power to such equipment and take measures to ensure that it cannot be reconnected until it is safe to do so, taking care not to isolate vital services such as sprinkler systems, communications etc. Also, measures are needed to prevent the substance normally held in the confined space from being automatically delivered. There may also be a risk of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide present in the exhaust of combustion engines entering the confined space. Emergency rescue Management Regulations 69 You should assess the requirements for emergency rescue arrangements. Possible emergencies should be anticipated and appropriate rescue arrangements made. The likely risks, and therefore the equipment and measures needed for a rescue by nearby employees, must be identified and the equipment made available for use. Page 20 of 61

21 Preventing the need for entry CONFINED SPACES REGULATIONS 1997 Regulation 4 Work in confined spaces Regulation 4 ACOP 4 (1) No person at work shall enter a confined space to carry out work for any purpose unless it is not reasonably practicable to achieve that purpose without such entry. 70 Dutyholders should not enter a confined space and should prevent employees, or others who are to any extent within their control, such as contractors, from entering or working inside a confined space where it is reasonably practicable to thoroughly undertake the work without entering the space. 71 In every situation, the dutyholder must consider what measures can be taken to enable the work to be carried out properly without the need to enter the confined space. The measures might involve modifying the confined space itself to avoid the need for entry, or to enable the work to be undertaken from outside the space. In many cases it will involve modifying working practices. Guidance 4 72 Examples of modified working practices preventing the need for entry include: (d) (e) testing the atmosphere or sampling the contents of confined spaces from outside using appropriate long tools and probes etc; cleaning a confined space, or removing residues from it, from the outside using water jetting, steam or chemical cleaning, long-handled tools, or in-place cleaning systems; clearing blockages in silos where grain or other solids can bridge or where voids can form, using remotely-operated rotating flail devices, vibrators and air purgers which avoid the need to enter the space; using built-in measures to see what is happening inside without going in by looking in through a porthole, sight-glass, grille or hole. If the sight-glass tends to become blocked, it can be cleaned with a wiper and washer. Lighting can be provided inside or by shining in through a window. The use of closedcircuit television systems (CCTV) may be appropriate in some cases; using remote visual inspection (RVI) to carry out examinations but only if this will provide the same results and safeguards as entry would. Page 21 of 61

22 Duties with regard to the design and construction of confined spaces HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK ETC ACT 1974, SECTION 6 (See Appendix 2) CONSTRUCTION (DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT) REGULATIONS 2007, REGULATION 11 (See Appendix 2) Guidance 73 Section 6 of the HSW Act places a duty on designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of articles for use at work to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the article is designed and constructed so that it will be safe and without risk to health. 74 The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (regulation 4) place a duty on employers to ensure that work equipment is constructed or adapted so that it will not affect the health or safety of any person when used or provided for the intended purpose. 75 Where plant and equipment unavoidably include confined spaces, designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers, erectors and installers should eliminate or, where this is not possible, minimise the need to enter such spaces both during normal use or working, and for cleaning and maintenance. 76 Regulation 11 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) places a duty on designers to ensure that any design includes adequate regard to the need to avoid foreseeable risks to the health and safety of any person on the structure at any time. 77 You can take a variety of measures to remove the need for people to have to enter a confined space to work. However, there may be specific methods of working such as tunnelling, which despite creating a confined space may nevertheless be the best overall option in view of the risk assessment. Engineers, architects, contractors and others who design, construct or modify buildings, structures etc should aim to eliminate or minimise the need to enter a confined space. For example, conical bases on process vessels can be designed so that in-place cleaning systems can flush out debris effectively. HSW Act CDM regulation Normal working, cleaning and inspection, and maintenance work should be considered at the design stage to ensure entirely new hazards are not introduced. Designers should consult users carefully about their requirements. Where it is not Page 22 of 61

23 Guidance reasonably practicable to avoid entry, the design should incorporate easy access, taking account of requirements in the event of emergencies. For example: HSW Act CDM regulation 11 the design should incorporate manholes sited at the bottom or low down in the structure; the suitability of access and working platforms etc should be considered; and design of the space itself should reduce the need for entry, eg by incorporating sample points, rodding eyes, nozzles etc for atmospheric testing. Page 23 of 61

24 Safe working in confined spaces CONFINED SPACES REGULATIONS 1997 Regulation 4 Work in confined spaces Regulation 4 ACOP 4 (2) Without prejudice to paragraph (1) above, so far as is reasonably practicable, no person at work shall enter or carry out any work in or (other than as a result of an emergency) leave a confined space otherwise than in accordance with a system of work which, in relation to any relevant specified risks, renders that work safe and without risks to health. 79 Where it is not reasonably practicable to avoid entering a confined space to undertake work, the dutyholder is responsible for ensuring that a safe system of work is used. In designing a safe system of work, they should give priority to eliminating the source of any danger before deciding what precautions are needed for entry. 80 To be effective, a safe system of work should be in writing and set out the work to be done and the precautions to be taken. When written down it is a formal record that all foreseeable hazards and risks have been considered in advance, and the necessary precautions have been taken and are in place before the work is allowed to begin. The safe procedure consists of all appropriate precautions taken in the correct sequence. In practice, a safe system of work will only ever be as good as its implementation. Precautions to be included in the safe system of work 81 The precautions required in a safe system of work will depend on the nature of the confined space and the results of the risk assessment. For example, the risks involved and precautions needed for cleaning car interiors with solvents will be relatively straightforward by comparison with those involved when undertaking welding work inside a chemical reactor vessel, or work in a sewer. 82 The main elements to consider when designing a safe system of work, and which may form the basis of a permit-to-work, are: (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) supervision; competence for confined spaces working; communications; testing/monitoring the atmosphere; gas purging; ventilation; removal of residues; isolation from gases, liquids and other flowing materials; Page 24 of 61

25 ACOP 4 (i) isolation from mechanical and electrical equipment; (j) selection and use of suitable equipment; (k) PPE and RPE; (l) portable gas cylinders and internal combustion engines; (m) gas supplied by pipes and hoses; (n) access and egress; (o) fire prevention; (p) lighting; (q) static electricity; (r) smoking; (s) emergencies and rescue; (t) limited working time. Supervision 83 The degree of supervision should be based on the findings of the risk assessment. In some cases an employer might simply instruct an employee how to do the work and then periodically check that all is well, for example if the work is routine, the precautions straightforward, and all the arrangements for safety can be properly controlled by the person carrying out the work. It is more likely that the risk assessment will identify a level of risk that requires the appointment of a competent person (see paragraph 49) to supervise the work and who may need to remain present while the work is being undertaken. 84 It will be the supervisor s role to ensure that the permit-to-work system, where applicable, operates properly, the necessary safety precautions are taken, and that anyone in the vicinity of the confined space is informed of the work being done. Competence for confined spaces working 85 Workers must have adequate training and experience in the particular work involved to be competent to work safely in a confined space. Training standards must be appropriate to the task, and to the individual s roles and responsibilities, so that work can be carried out safely. Where the risk assessment indicates that properly trained individuals can work for periods without supervision, you should check that they are competent to follow the established safe system of work and have been provided with adequate information and instruction about the work to be done. Communications 86 An adequate communication system must be in place and should enable communication: between those inside the confined space; between those inside the confined space and those outside; and to summon help in case of emergency. 87 Whatever system is used, and it can be based on speech, tugs on a rope, the telephone, radio etc, all messages should be able to be communicated easily, rapidly and unambiguously between relevant people. Consider whether the communication methods are appropriate for any workers wearing breathing apparatus. The communication system should also cover the need for those outside the space to raise the alarm and set in motion emergency rescue procedures. 88 Equipment such as telephones and radios should be specially protected so that it does not present a source of ignition where there is a risk of flammable or potentially explosive atmospheres. Page 25 of 61

26 ACOP 4 Testing/monitoring the atmosphere 89 Prior to entry, the atmosphere within a confined space should be tested to check the oxygen concentration or for the presence of hazardous gas, fume or vapour. Testing should be carried out where knowledge of the confined space (eg from information about its previous contents or chemicals used in a previous activity in the space) indicates that the atmosphere might be contaminated or to any extent unsafe to breathe, or where any doubt exists as to the condition of the atmosphere. Testing should also be carried out if the atmosphere was known to be contaminated previously, was ventilated as a consequence, and needed to be tested to check the result. Retesting 90 Where the atmosphere in the space may not be safe to breathe and requires testing, the findings of the risk assessment should indicate whether testing should be carried out on each occasion that the confined space is re-entered, even where the atmosphere initially was found to be safe to breathe. Regular monitoring may be necessary to ensure that there is no change in the atmosphere while the work is being carried out, particularly where there is a known potential for adverse changes during the work. 91 The conditions should be continuously monitored when, for example, forced ventilation is being used, and where the work activity could give rise to changes in the atmosphere. The exact testing, retesting and monitoring requirements should be defined by a competent person within the safe system of work. This regular monitoring of the atmosphere in a confined space may be through the use of fixed monitors used within an area to protect a number of workers or through the use of personal/portable monitors worn by individual workers. Monitoring and detecting equipment 92 The choice of monitoring and detecting equipment will depend on the circumstances and knowledge of possible contaminants and you may need to take advice from a competent person when deciding on the type that best suits the situation. For example, when testing for toxic or asphyxiating atmospheres suitably calibrated chemical detector tubes or portable atmospheric monitoring equipment may be appropriate. 93 Monitoring equipment should be in good working order. Where necessary, it should be calibrated and tested at least in accordance with the manufacturer s recommendations, or in line with some other schedule (identified from the findings of the risk assessment) that may differ from the manufacturer s requirements. Testing and calibration may be included in daily operator checks (a response check) where identified as necessary. 94 Where there is a potential risk of flammable or explosive atmospheres, equipment specifically designed to measure for these will be required. All such monitoring equipment should be specifically suited for use in potentially flammable or explosive atmospheres. Explosimeters/flammable gas monitors must be calibrated for the different gases or vapours which the risk assessment has identified could be present and these may need alternative calibrations for different confined spaces. The manufacturer will be able to identify the appropriate calibrations for the possible gases. Oxygen content 95 Inhaling an atmosphere that contains no oxygen can cause loss of consciousness in a matter of seconds. Page 26 of 61

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